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Veterinary nurse

Veterinary nurses work with vets to provide nursing care for sick and injured animals.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £26,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need:

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You may find it useful to have some relevant work experience. This could be as a volunteer with a vet, local kennels, animal welfare centre, or with the PDSA or RSPCA.

The RCVS and the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) have information on careers in veterinary nursing.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to handle animals in a calm, confident manner
  • practical skills
  • the ability to be tactful and sympathetic with pet owners
  • administration and IT skills

3. What you'll do

You’ll usually work in a general veterinary practice. You'll need to care about animal welfare without being too sentimental.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • speaking to animal owners to find out the problem
  • taking blood and urine samples from animals
  • taking x-rays
  • preparing animals for treatment and assisting vets during treatment
  • giving injections, medication and removing stitches
  • talking to pet owners about how to care for their animals
  • taking care of in-patient animals
  • supervising and helping to train other assistants
  • updating records

In smaller practices you may also work on reception.

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £20,000

Experienced: £21,000 to £24,000

Highly Experienced: £26,000 (senior nurse)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 35 to 40 hours a week, with some evenings and weekends.

You'll usually get a uniform and protective clothing.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could take on more responsibility, like practice management, supervising and training new staff, or working in veterinary supplies.

You could also train to specialise in working for a zoological/wildlife park, charity, pharmaceutical company or breeding/boarding kennels.

With further study you could work towards becoming a lecturer or researcher.

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Last updated: 13 April 2017